Funding Opportunities: A List of Investors that Back SA Startups

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Last year was the most successful year of fundraising by African tech startups, according to the Disrupt Africa African Tech Startups Funding Report.

Africa’s investment landscape for entrepreneurs is slowly changing as more less risk averse venture capital flows into the continent. Today sources for investment capital for African businesses are growing beyond family and government funding.

International investors are actively searching for African unicorns to invest in with venture capitalists discovering opportunities on the continent that offer double digit returns on their investment. In 2017 alone R31.3 billion was invested, a 102% increase over the previous year.

Over the past few years, investors have also moved away from wanting to invest just in technology and digital retail. In 2016 the ICT sector made up 30% of all deals, but there was more money being invested in biotechnology, health and medical devices developed in Africa and agritech.

As the amount of money investors are channeling into Africa grows, now is the best time to consider approaching both local and international investors for your company.

Goodwell Investments is an Amsterdam based investment fund takes a hands-on approach to funding startups. It offers microfinance and startup funding for African SMME’s. It also offers entrepreneur’s assistance strategy, planning, fundraising, governance and reporting.

Greycroft Partners is a US-based venture capital company which mainly invests in digital media and tech startups. They target early-stage companies with young founders, typically in “seed” or “Series A” rounds according to Fortune. They also have a keen interest in startups that are headed by female founders and entrepreneurs, according to the same report. They recently invested in a Kenyan bitcoin payment solution, BitPesa and Nigerian payment solution, Flutterwave. They have two funds available: Greycroft IV, a $204 million venture fund and Greycroft Growth II, a $365 million growth-stage fund. Greycroft Growth II starts at $10 million and will invest up to $35 million in a company.

Kgatelopele is a South African private equity firm that funds under-developed Black owned businesses that show growth potential. They assist with raising capital, help source talent and develop growth strategies for their clients with the aim of raising value.

Accion is a US-based non-profit organisation that focuses on providing services to underserved consumers and businesses. In 2017, they partnered with Quona, a fund that invests in fintech startups with a social purpose. Some of the startups they have invested in include Nigeria’s fintech solution Lidya and South Africa’s insurance company AllLife.

Rising Tide Africa invests between $50000 and $500000 in women owned start ups. The fund is an early stage investor in ‘digitally and technology-enabled companies’ that will improve the lives of African women and the lifestyles of the continent.

VC4Africa is a networking platform that links Africa businesses with investors and provides mentoring and support for African entrepreneurs.

The recently launched Jack Ma Foundation’s Africa Netpreneur Prize offers an annual $1 million prize for 10 new enterprises that “tackle Africa’s challenges and further its digital economy through entrepreneurship.” The prize will run for 10 years and its hoped to encourage – without excluding anyone – women and youth. Applications for the first year of the prize open on the 15th of January 2019.

Kalon Venture Partners is a South Africa-based section 12J venture capital fund and is one of a few 12J funds that invests in tech startups. Their focus is on disruptive tech startups. Last year they invested in shopping app, Snapnsave, solar power financial system, Sun Exchange, and online payment processor i-Pay. The company invests as little as R110 000 and as much as R20 million into startups.

Knife Capital is Cape-based venture capital firm. Their target is post-revenue stage companies that require funding for growth or expansion, with a strong product or service offering and a scalable business model. They recently invested in SkillUp, a Cape Town-based that offers parents and students across South Africa access to thousands of highly skilled and vetted tutors based on grades, subject, location, and budget. Machine learning company, DataProphet, also secured funding from the firm earlier this year.

Before you approach

Before approaching investors educate yourself in, at least, investment basics. Understand that they want to see how your business is going to make them money, especially if you want to exchange investment for debt rather than equity.

Most important. Different investors will offer different opportunities, so be willing to adapt your strategy to meet the demands and expectations of the investor offering you financing.

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